Bible Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice...And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4,7)

What causes us to be anxious? What makes us stressed, worried or at unease? Often we get stuck looking at things from our own perspective. As we look up and around, our horizon is filled with all our problems that never seem to end. Everything seems stressful. There appears to be no hope. What’s wrong?

We forget who we are and where we are in the grand scheme of things. How big our struggles or problems may be, they are only small when compared to God’s big plan. In God’s plan, we have no reason to be distressed or anxious because the gospel is a gospel of good news worthy of rejoicing. 

In fact, Paul commands us, “Rejoice in the Lord always”. This is a weird commandment because it is not a command to action. It is a command for our heart’s affections. If the command was to action, for example, “do one hundred push ups!” no matter how much you dislike the command, you can still force yourself to do it. However, if you tell someone, “be happy!” when they are sad, they cannot just change their emotions by willpower. There must be something of a greater cause for rejoicing than their current sorrow. 

So what does Paul mean when He says, “Rejoice in the Lord always”? How are we meant to make our hearts “rejoiceful” when a lot of the times we are stressed and anxious? The answer is because of God’s promises which are for us and are written in the Bible. If we are Christ’s children, then His blood has already atoned for our sins. Romans 6:26 says, “for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus”. We have eternal life and a living relationship with God. We are free from the bondage of sin and the bondage of eternal death. Though our bodies will die, we will be resurrected with new bodies in the coming days, and we will enjoy life in God’s presence forever. What are our small struggles compared to this? 

Earlier, Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself”. We have a living and eternal hope in God. More than that, God promises that although this life will be filled with suffering, He will not leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5b-6), and He works all things for the good of His children (Romans 8:28). Because of God’s abundant grace and His promise to continually give us more, we have all the reason to rejoice at this moment. 

If we neglect God’s goodness and still choose to focus on our cities, we are selfish and ignorant. We do not know what it means to give thanks. Moreover, God’s truths for our lives are written in the Bible. If we refuse to turn to God and diligently seek Him in His Word, we are also ignorant because we starve our souls from the spiritual food we desperately need. 

On the other hand, if we make God’s Word and these profound promises as our meditation every day, our lives will by themselves be full of rejoicing. Our hearts will continually be pouring out thanks to God. See how David sings in the psalms. He pours out His thankfulness and praise to His good God. Such gratitude and praise should belong in the heart of every believer who understands the grace that has already been given to them. 

The secret which Paul teaches us is this. When we trust in God in prayer and supplication, clinging to His promises in thanksgiving, God’s peace which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ. The more we know God in a personal relationship with Him, the more we will rejoice and be thankful. The more we rest in God’s promises, God’s peace will become all the more ours. 

How have you sought to rejoice in the Lord in your lives? Have you ever experienced God’s peace which surpasses understanding? 

Lord, thank You that You are a faithful and loving God. Thank You that You have died for me on the cross, and because of that, You gave me the free gift of eternal life. Forgive me when I lose sight of the hope that I have in You. Teach me to rejoice in You as David would have done. Teach me to grow closer to You and to know You better. Help me so that even in hard times, my days can be filled with contentment and joy in You and that Your peace can surround me always. In Jesus’ name, amen.